Transitioning to Higher Education with Expert Advice

By: Beverly Matoney | The Homeschoool Copywriter

Homeschooling parents choose to teach their own children for many different reasons, not the least of which is they feel they can improve on their other educational options. Of course, doing research and asking for help when needed is the hallmark of a prepared home educator.

When it’s time for your homeschool graduate to move into higher education, you may want to seek the advice of a college counselor to help smooth the transition for your student.

College counselors can play a crucial role in assisting students with preparations for life after homeschool. As you are helping your student research colleges, consider asking a college counselor for help with these topics as well:

  • Academic Planning
  • Standardized Testing
  • Transcript Preparation
  • College Selection
  • Extracurricular Activities
  • Application Assistance
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Transition Support

Academic Planning

Your student will benefit from a comprehensive academic plan that aligns with their intended college major and career goals. Counselors can provide guidance on selecting appropriate courses and completing required subjects and can recommend supplementary or online courses if needed.

Standardized Testing

Understanding the standardized testing requirements for your chosen schools is important to know as your student may need to take tests months or even years in advance of high school graduation. College counselors can provide your student with test dates, registration procedures, preparation resources, and advice on how to create a study plan tailored to their specific needs.

Transcript Preparation

Not all college admissions requirements are equal, and creating a comprehensive and accurate homeschool transcript is essential for college applications. Counselors are a reliable source of information regarding how to document your student’s academic achievements including standard course descriptions, grading parameters, and any external evaluations or assessments. Ask them for a template or example of a transcript that meets college admissions expectations.

College Selection

Choosing the right college is not always a straightforward process. Since counselors are familiar with the admissions requirements, academic programs, and campus culture of a variety of schools, they can help reduce the anxiety of making such a big decision. A counselor can identify institutions that are a good fit for your student’s interests, strengths, aspirations, and any special needs.

Extracurricular Activities

Homeschoolers often spend hours outside of the home participating in extracurricular activities. A college counselor can help identify meaningful activities that demonstrate and spotlight your student’s talents and leadership skills. They can suggest opportunities for community involvement, internships, volunteer work, or participation in clubs, organizations, or sports teams outside of homeschooling that will stand out on a college application.

Application Assistance

The college application process can be overwhelming. You will need to know application requirements, deadlines, and which documents are necessary, and these are sometimes outside the standard requests from traditional students. Counselors can provide this information and also review application essays, offering feedback to help your student craft compelling personal statements for the application board.

Letters of Recommendation

Having strong letters of recommendation is an important part of a thorough college application. A college counselor can advise your student on how to obtain solid recommendations by identifying appropriate people to solicit, providing advice on requesting the letters, and suggesting strategies for highlighting the student’s strengths and achievements to their recommenders.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

College counselors have access to a wealth of financial aid and scholarship information. They can help you navigate the application process and provide you with information about available scholarships, grants, and loans. Plus, they can walk you through the completion of any financial aid forms like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Transition Support

Heading off to college is a huge milestone for your homeschool graduate. It’s helpful to have guidance and support from an experienced college counselor. During the transition, they can address concerns, provide resources on college life and academic expectations, and help your student prepare for the social, emotional, and logistical aspects of starting college.

It’s important to note that the specific services provided by college counselors may vary depending on the institution or organization they work for. Seek out counselors experienced in working with homeschool graduates to ensure your student receives customized guidance tailored to their unique educational background.

How can I find a college counselor experienced in working with homeschool students?

Not all college counselors are prepared to work with homeschool students. To find the ideal counselor for your student, try these options:

Homeschool Support Groups

Reach out to local homeschool support groups or co-ops in your area. These often have connections to resources and professionals who specialize in homeschooling. Members of these groups may be able to provide recommendations or referrals for a suitable college counselor.

Homeschool Associations

Contact homeschool associations or organizations at your state or national level. They often maintain directories of professionals who cater to homeschooling families and may be able to provide you with a list of counselors or point you in the right direction.

College Admissions Workshops

Attend workshops or seminars specifically targeted to homeschool students. These events feature speakers who are knowledgeable about your student’s unique needs and challenges. Networking with these professionals can help you find college counselors with homeschooling expertise.

Online Homeschooling Communities

Engage with online homeschool communities, forums, or social media groups. When you connect with other homeschooling families, you’ll find they are a great resource for recommendations or referrals to college counselors who have experience working with students who are home educated.

College Fairs and Events

You will often find counselors or admissions representatives at college fairs and events who are knowledgeable about homeschooling and can provide guidance. Take the opportunity to ask questions and gather information about those who specialize in working with homeschool students.

Professional Associations

You may be able to find a directory of college counselors within a professional association or organization that focuses on this industry. Interview a few likely candidates from the list to find the ideal guide for your homeschool student.

When speaking with a college counselor, it’s important to ask specific questions to determine their experience and expertise in working with homeschoolers. Ask how many homeschool students they’ve worked with and the services they offer specifically for homeschoolers. This will help you find a counselor who can provide the specialized guidance and support your student needs as they prepare for their college adventure.

Taking the next step to college or university can seem overwhelming for your homeschool graduate, but with preparation, research, and knowing when to ask for help, you can watch your student thrive.

About the Author: Beverly Matoney

Beverly Matoney is a wife, mother to two wonderful adult children, and writer living in northeast Georgia. She began her career in sales and marketing, but eventually opted for the stay-at-home life. When her oldest child was three, she and her husband decided homeschool was the best path for their family. That was way back in the early 90s when homeschool was just beginning to gain steam as an education alternative. But what an adventure it was!

Fast forward 20+ years, and their children have grown, graduated from homeschool, gone to college, and started their own lives. What’s a former home educator to do? She follows another dream she had of being a writer.